15. New states created their own blue laws throughout the 19th century
Arkansas entered the Union in 1836, the 25th state. The following year its legislature passed the state’s first blue law. It prohibited all sales as well as all labor on Sundays. There were a few exceptions, including labor for charity, but for the most part Arkansas was closed on Sunday. Over the years, numerous additional laws were passed against leisure activities on Sunday. Card games on the Sabbath were banned, both public and private. Hunting on the Sabbath was banned, at a time and in a state where game was still a significant portion of the diet. Horse racing followed suit, as did participating in the game of baseball. Travel restrictions were imposed, because saddling a horse or hitching a team was considered labor. An exception to travel to church was allowed.
Most of Arkansas’ blue laws were gradually repealed, with the exception of laws controlling alcohol. Following the repeal of Prohibition, during which the entire state was dry, at least from a legal point of view, numerous counties decided to remain alcohol free. More than half of the counties in the state – 39 out of 75 – remained dry, and of those where the right to purchase and consume alcohol was restored, Sunday sales were restricted. Across the state the sale of alcohol on Christmas Day was banned. Some private facilities in the dry counties were awarded special privileges regarding the sale of alcohol, but they were relatively rare.